Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Fair Family

There are many that work the Fair each year that have become our family. I introduced you to many of them, already.

Heritage Square is a small corner of the Fair, hidden and secret from most people who come. There are a few demonstrators, but mostly vendors. But they have to have “old-time” type of wares to sell and are supposed to be dressed in what they consider “old-time.” It was a shock to most of them when they first saw us walking around in the proper clothing!

We have many who do not work with us, directly. But we see them at breakfast; tradition is to meet for breakfast and walk back to Heritage Square. They also come see us if their breaks are long enough; we go see them on our breaks, too.

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Breakfast at Andy's Cafe ... blue shirt on the left is John, who sells drawings of train depots

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Roger Abrahamson is a “Bodger” – he turns bowls (and chair legs, if he wants, as well as other things) on a spring pole lathe. This is a springy branch of a tree that pulls the bowl or other wood around then springs back. You don’t go all the way around over and over, like a normal lathe, so it takes some getting used to. Roger makes gorgeous bowls .. I have a butter bowl that he made several years ago. I have known Roger for years from Murphy’s Landing. He was the one who got me hired my first year at the State Fair. The family that “manned” the cabin were leaving and Entertainment was looking for a replacement. Roger suggested me!

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Some of the things Roger makes

Lorna was a potter until she injured her shoulder; she also had to have the same surgery as I did … thumb joint replacement. Hers was from years of potting, mine was from years of spinning. Once she found she couldn’t pot anymore, she turned to soaps, lotions, shampoos, etc. She buys the base and mixes her own scents. She calls her booth the Brothel, and her scents are named after “ladies of the evening.” She is the Madam and her husband is the Brothel Inspector. She was the first person I met at the Fair, after Roger, and we have become good friends. She is also a spinner and knitter and is learning (through me) to weave.

Then there is Tony – he’s a taxidermist that sells all kinds of things like elk heads, bear skins, skunk skins, etc. One time this summer he warned us about raccoons getting into the cabin, then opened one of windows at night and put a raccoon skin by the window with a trap, as if we had trapped one. He also put a skunk skin in the wagon for Katie to find. We call him “The Marshal” as he dresses like one and has a badge he wears. He is always coming over to report on his activities on finding Katie’s (Amanda) husband who has wandered off somewhere each year. Amanda swears that if her husband does not come back, she will marry the Marshal.

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Joe is in charge of the area, as far as repairs, cleaning, etc. He comes by every day to see how we are doing and brings us our daily newsletter from the main office. He is a pretty happy guy, most of the time, unless he is stressed about something going wrong. He has accused us of smoking ‘weed’ of some kind and decided the cattails I had one year was what we were smoking. He said we couldn’t be that happy without something to assist us and asked us to share with him.

Jan is the museum director. Our ‘boss,’ Teresa, is in charge of us, but Jan is in charge of the cabin. She has started growing a small garden for us in the yard so we have something to look at and to hide the traffic, sort of. She gets a kick out of what we do and likes to stop by sometimes to see if we have extra food (but she won’t eat in front of guests – makes her uneasy to be out of costume. We put an apron on her one time to let her sit and eat with us).

We have made friends with others in the Square but only chat with them occasionally.

As far as our family in the cabin, it has quite a few members. You have met Katie (Amanda) and Takara (Annalisa). Norm (Mr. Peterson) came for about four days this time – first time he’s been here longer than a partial day or two.

David’s name is “Baethan” and pronounced “Bayan” … which means “Little Fool” in Gaelic. He plays a Scot in a group called Clan Tartan. He lives close by and is unemployed at the moment, due to an accident several years ago. He plays many instruments – violin and “reabac” being two. The “reabac” is a distant cousin of the violin and was introduced into Europe by the Moors. It is still being played in some countries. It has three strings and has a very different and softer sound than the violin. If you look at paintings done in the Renaissance era, the angels are playing lutes, harps or reabacs. David played “Amazing Grace” with the bagpipe arrangement and it sounded very much like a bagpipe!

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David is learning to play the harp, as well. He plays my hired hand and I value him because he is a musician and won’t let him work in the fields with Mr. Peterson and the other help because of danger to his hands. So “Baethan” helps around the house and entertains us with his music.

Roger Helsvig plays “Ole Oleson” – a Norwegian immigrant. He is married with seven children and lives about a mile from us. But he sets his wife and children to work and comes to visit and keep us company. He and I are always bickering because he is Norwegian and my character, Martha Peterson, is Swedish. In truth, I love the man … Roger is so talented and so much fun! He came for about five days and had his immigrant trunk outside and talked immigration. Roger has grown his interpreting business into a nice job and travels quite a few places with it.

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We sometimes have others come and visit, but this year it was pretty sparse, because the others are fully employed elsewhere and don’t always have time to visit us. But our small (this year) family had a great time. It helped pass the time to have others around and made it more fun for our guests.

It has been, and will continue to be, a beautiful day at the Fair. You have a beautiful day!


happyowl said...

I am so enjoying these pictures. Someday I would love to come visit "your fair" it looks like so much fun.

Brightest blessings


Anonymous said...

Connie, thank you so much for sharing the story and pictures of the fair....I love it that the pictures can look so authentically back in time.

I've been looking in the immigrant trunk for ages now - the contents are fascinating me!



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